Rivet Networks, the company behind Killer Networking products, has been acquired by Intel for an undisclosed sum. Rivet Networks began life as Bigfoot Networks, with a dramatic “Killer NIC” card that sold for $250 before pivoting to building software solutions to prioritize and classify traffic. The company was acquired by (and spun back off from) Qualcomm, re-emerged as Rivet Networks, and as of yesterday, is now an Intel property.
Since it re-emerged from Qualcomm, Rivet has focused on building relationships with both motherboard and laptop OEMs. The company has shipped its own custom-branded solutions with underlying hardware built by Qualcomm, Realtek, and Intel at various points in time. It’s also offered features you don’t generally find elsewhere, like the option to use wired and wireless ethernet simultaneously, or to route traffic through specific network interfaces.
Over time, Rivet has been picking up more network partners and shipping hardware on a wider range of motherboards, including a partnership with Dell on the XPS product family. Overall, the company’s profile has been rising since the spinoff, and the acquisition today is the logical outgrowth of that trend.
So what does Intel plan to do with this acquisition? That’s less clear. The blog post announcing the deal refers to the broad surge in networking traffic that’s happened over the past few months — a subtle nod to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, without actually naming the pandemic. There are no specific references to any projects between the two companies, however, beyond a statement that Intel will continue to license Rivet Networks software to customers. Rivet worked closely with Intel to develop its solutions around the AX201 and Killer AC-1535, so we should likely expect further developments around these products and, presumably, some additional goodies in the future.
As for what this means for the future of PC networking? That really depends on which aspects of the business Intel chooses to emphasize. The recent pandemic has at least temporarily turbocharged the work-from-home community, driving new hardware purchases and efforts to outfit home offices for long-term use. As such, Intel might want Killer for its traffic shaping and prioritizing tech in a business context. Alternately, it could plan to continue to develop the software across the entire spectrum of business and consumer uses.
Ultimately, we read this as a move to boost its networking credentials at a time when home Wi-Fi performance is likely to be top-of-mind for your average consumer than it might be otherwise. Intel has often marketed its own Wi-Fi solutions as specific reasons to buy an Intel laptop, going back to at least the Centrino platform. From that perspective, the company’s decision to buy an enthusiast-oriented network developer makes perfect sense.
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